Stone Washington
Atlas shrugged, America slouched -- The Galt/Trump revolution
By Stone Washington
January 28, 2016

"I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle."

~ John Galt, Atlas Shrugged

"One of the problems when you become successful is that jealousy and envy inevitably follow. There are people – I categorize them as life's losers – who get their sense of accomplishment and achievement from trying to stop others. As far as I'm concerned, if they had any real ability they wouldn't be fighting me, they'd be doing something constructive themselves."

~ Donald Trump, Art of the Deal


This essay is a literary analysis of objective intellectual Ayn Rand's magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged (1957), and the important lessons on free market capitalism we learn primarily through the life and times of its protagonist – John Galt. The novel begins with the ongoing question, "Who is John Galt"? This question ultimately drives the mood of the novel in that it is not only a rhetorical question recognized by most Americans alluding to their inescapable state of hopelessness and existential despair, but it is also the source of curiosity and profound psychological probing into the myth of a man who has accomplished the impossible through the sheer force of his will and the verity of his ideas.

Summary of John Galt

In Ayn Rand's fictional work, Atlas Shrugged, the U.S. economy is slowly decaying under the guidance of Washington, D.C. politicians and bureaucrats. The wealthiest businessmen and entrepreneurs that drive the American economy are slowly beginning to disappear and fade out of their line of work just when they are needed most to prevent or slow down the socialist deconstruction of society. These disappearances perplex businesswoman Dagny Taggart, Vice President of the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad business who works tirelessly to repair and expand her growing industry alongside her brother James Taggart, President of the company. Dagny is an unrepentant idealist, devoted to upholding the integrity of her company, even when other businesses of prominent stature fade into the decay of the economy, including Francisco d'Anconia, formerly an industrial genius who has discarded his corporate prestige for the hedonism as a playboy concerned only with materialist pursuits of the flesh. Dagny's proud ingenuity is matched by that of the largely successful industrialist Hank Rearden, owner of Rearden Steel Company.

Despite being siblings, Jim's values embody the antithesis of the rational minded Dagny. Although he displays a nice suit and proud look to the public eye, this serves only to hide his true duplicitous, self-destructive tendencies of the pols in Washington, D.C. as he uses his wealth and influence as weapons to destroy his competitors. Jim allies himself with corrupt Washington, D.C. power brokers that seek only to deconstruct the nation's economic foundations and reshape it into their utopian Socialist vision of State controls, massive federal regulations over every aspect of the economy, and comprehensive government price controls. While the government continually passes economy-killing mandates the effects of which choke out the competition amongst owners of their small rail lines, Dagny and Rearden are compelled to work ever harder and join forces to repair their damaged rail lines in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

When Rearden and Francisco meet each other at Lillian Rearden's (Hank Rearden's wife) party, he questions why he would allow himself to carry the burdens of the people his company serves and allow these people to live off his productive energy. Rearden tells him that he doesn't mind bearing the collective burden of the weak. But Francisco tells him that society is not weak but they use the premise of being weak as a weapon to ensnare Rearden into a guilt trap so that he will forever serve them. When Jim questions Francisco's mismanagement of his own mines, and how he has squandered his wealth, he reveals that he is merely embodying the downward spiral of hopelessness that is enslaving society.

"Who is John Galt?"

A woman at a party hosted by Lillian Rearden (Hank Rearden's wife) confesses that she knows the man to be a millionaire who discovered the lost city of Atlantis. Dagny believes it myth, while Francisco believes it true. Francisco believes in the mythos surrounding Galt because he has secretly met the man. He agrees that Galt is a millionaire because he is rich with knowledge on how to make America successful and productive again, and he agrees that Galt has discovered the lost city of Atlantis because he has discovered its equivalent: the valley, a mysterious location revealed later in the novel.

Again the unsolvable riddle arises, "Who is John Galt?" A man replies when speaking to a friend who declares the lack of human spirit and obsession with greed amongst everyone. A random prostitute claims that she knows who John Galt is, and reveals that he was a great explorer who found the fountain of youth. Indeed Galt has explored the endless capabilities of the mind, and with it has discovered the valley, which contains a modern variation of the fountain of youth: unrestrained productivity, renewing itself through the endless betterment of industrial creation. At this point in the novel, John Galt can be anyone or no one. The only thing certain is that he is a man credited with accomplishing the impossible.

Donald Trump in presidential debate

Later in the novel when Dagny meets Jeff Allen from Twentieth Century Motors she finds a company that would punish those who did not complete work on time by forcing even more work upon the employees with unpaid wages. "Who is John Galt," one would normally say to the hopelessness of the situation, but instead it is revealed that the first man to have quit the company was in fact John Galt himself, who swore he would end this absurdity and "stop the motor of the world." After the factory closed down, the workers believed this to be the work of Galt and they coined the phrase: "Who is John Galt?" A later scene in the story when Dagny flies a plane after Owen Kellogg, an associate of hers, in attempt to save him from the destroyer only hastened her eventual capture as a disappearing industrialist. It can be insinuated that the crash was intentional in order for Galt to finally reveal himself to Dagny. After the crash Dagny wakes up in the valley, the mysterious home of John Galt.

It is revealed that John Galt lives the duality of both creating the revolutionary motor, an innovative device Dagny recently discovered that holds the potential to transform the future of technology, while being the mysterious "destroyer" robbing the country of all its industrialists. The industrialists submitted to join Galt's strike against the government by offering their talents to sustain the valley. The valley is portrayed as self-sustained utopia powered by the ingenuity of all the industrialists, while America is becoming a decaying dystopia that crumbles under the looters, the term used to describe the leaching government draining the power and authority from American companies by taking economic matters into their own hands.

The oath of the valley, "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine", represents the immovable integrity of a rational-minded man. This is the cornerstone of Rand's philosophy based on the self-sustainability of a man's ego; society furthering itself by the ingenuity within rational thought instead of suffering collectively is Rand's ideal world. The ability to think rationally and formulate thought into creation is the motor that powers the world in Rand's eyes. Rand bequeathed this Objectivism philosophy to the story's most pioneering character, John Galt, who created the ground-breaking motor and ultimately left it as a message to prove Rand's philosophy: the mind is the motor that drives the world's successes.

"Who is John Galt?" He is the man with the answer to fixing the economic decay of the nation. With the creation of Project X, the government has officially lost sight of the value of life and death, seeking to maintain power over a dying country even to the expense of those the government is trusted to safeguard, We the People. Project X is both the masterpiece of the political, bureaucratic apparatchik's warped mission of maintaining order in the economically unstable nation, and the antithesis of John Galt's motor. While the government's corrupt machine gives the universal illusion of order, it is actual exerting control and enslaving the chaotic masses through the destructive force of physical power (e.g., sending seismic quakes through the ground that crushes anything within a certain radius). Galt's motor enables mankind to further its own prosperity through the force of creative thought without government intervention or control = Freedom.

Later, John Galt secretly takes over every television broadcast in the U.S. and proclaims his views and teachings to the nation, he reveals his identity to the public for the first time. He reveals his Objectivist philosophy, that serving oneself is a moral man's highest goal in life and his ticket toward prosperity. The principles he declares one should live by are these – Reason, Purpose, and Self-esteem. He exposes the danger of failing to think independently of State structures and institutions and shatters the illusion of collectivism under the dictate of the government, which governs everything people should believe –

"Who is John Galt"? Despite his grand declaration spoken before the entire country on how to revive the nation, the looters still don't understand who Galt truly is. They fight among themselves in confusion as to how to deal with him. 'Mr. Thomson,' The Head of State (dictator of the government), remains deluded by the possibility that the country can be resurrected by the government's Socialist monetary failures and devises a plan to appoint Galt as Economic Dictator (today "Czar"). If Thomson truly listened to Galt's speech, he would see that this is the exact hypocrisy Galt sought to defeat – the leaching of power from hard working industrial minds under the dictates of the government which benefits undeservedly. Deceitful government scientists, like Dr. Cuffy, Ferris, and Meigs on the other hand all know that Galt is the greatest threat to the looter's falsities and believe that all they must do is kill Galt to remain unscathed from the spiral of destruction engulfing the nation.

The fact that Galt refuses to sacrifice his mind to the looter's advantage even when threatened with death represents his unbreakable dedication to the "strike of the mind" (his ideology), which cannot be made to surrender to the mindless brutality of the government. Even when the looters tortured Galt in attempts to manipulate his intelligence for their survival, Galt remained true to his convictions and continued to impose the triumph of rational thinking over physical force when he offered to fix the very machine that was torturing him after it broke down. In the end the looters are thwarted and Galt is saved by the strikers (the industrialists of the valley lead by Dagny and Rearden), leading of course to the inevitable collapse of the country and proving that the strike against the government was necessary to convince the nation to accept the industrialist's way of reconstruction.

Rand created Galt to be her Prometheus – the visionary prophet who sacrificed all for the preservation of the civilized world – the free market, capitalistic society. It is through Galt that all of her characters are defined and animated. Dagny and Rearden reflect Galt's unyielding love to produce and venerate only that which is produced by one's own hand through the purity of an independent mind. Francisco has a measure of this same ideal, but shares the common hatred Galt has for the government's manipulation of the industrialists carrying the productivity of the world and everyone's collective needs and desires on their shoulders similar to the tortured Titan in Greek myth, Atlas, who in antiquity was forced to carry the entire world for eternity on his shoulders. Thomson sees Galt as a beneficial tool for manipulation, while Stradler, Meigs, and Cuffy know he is the key to their eventual demise.

Galt's genius intellect represents the type of critical thought long since abandoned by the scientists in the novel. All they can do is pervert Veritas (truth) with their scientific inventions slavishly used to promote the omnipotent State that enslaves them. This scientific treason according to Ayn Rand makes their pseudo-science obsolete and real science venerated. The destruction of Project X is the inevitable conclusion of brute force, which only results in the destruction of those who are slaves to its power. To Jim Taggart, Galt is an unexplainable force of nature that shatters his hidden philosophy of nihilism and destruction. Jim destroys people for the sake of destroying while Galt builds for the love of building. This perfect duality between the two shatters Jim's illusion as he realizes his path bears no real purpose.

John Galt and Donald Trump

In modern day John Galt is a precursor to billionaire and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Like Galt, Trump possesses the economic and entrepreneurial genius that has launched him to orchestrate a multi-billion dollar empire of successful businesses. Like Galt, Trump is a man of principle who stands firm upon promoting the qualities and capabilities of an individual, apart from government intervention. This is evident when he denied special rights for welfare recipients in his battle against the Justice Department accusing him of violating the Fair Housing Act in 1973. Evidently this misguided attack would only help put Trump on the map after he resolved the issue. Just as the mythos behind John Galt grew over time, so does the prestige of Donald Trump, up to today where it is apparent that his fame has become the center of America's attention following his bid for the 2016 Presidential race.

Trump Towers, New York

Like Galt, Trump remains fearless and headstrong in his quest for the Presidency. Trump sticks to his values and political stance even when faced with harsh attacks and constant criticism from Democrats, so-called Conservatives, the media, and even the GOP cowardly Establishment. As with Galt rising in fame, the naysayers and back-stabbers only elevate Trump's popularity in the polls. Both men are bullet-proof in that no matter how many times they make "controversial" statements or are attacked, they remain unscathed and paradoxically only gain more supporters as the slave chains of people's minds are broken by independent, Objectivist thinking. Galt revealing himself on national TV is equivalent to how Trump has captured the hearts of millions of Americans downtrodden by the slavemaster State under the Democrat Socialist Party in Washington, D.C. The message of Galt and Trump to America, to We the People is similar in that they both courageously expose the treasonous condition America has been enslaved under the tyranny of career-politicians and proclaims that America will not last as a nation economically or morally under the disillusion of government greed.


America, We the People must not allow ourselves to continually backslide into decadence. Prometheus has arisen! Atlas has taken his rightful place on stage. Men like Trump and John Galt have held the nation upon their shoulders for too long not to rebel against the crony government. We must wake up and see the vision for greatness Trump seeks to restore back into the heart of this nation, a vision mirrored by John Galt's vision for prosperity under the success of industrial ideas. This election cycle it's time for America stop slouching in mediocrity and rise up to vote for a candidate that will reinvigorate the American legacy as the greatest nation in the History of the World.

© Stone Washington


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at


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